Florida wildlife officials report they have arrested two men for allegedly poaching thousands of turtles and selling them.
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release states that 39-year-old Michael Boesenberg and 23-year-old Michael Clemons were arrested last week and are facing multiple poaching-related charges.
According to investigators, Boesenberg led a ring of wildlife traffickers who operated mostly in Lee County. Poached turtles can sell wholesale for up to $300 each, or retailed for up to $10,000 each in Asia.
The FWC documented more than 4,000 turtles that were illegally taken and sold over a six-month period. That includes Florida box turtles, Eastern box turtles, striped mud turtles, Florida mud turtles, chicken turtles, Florida softshell turtles, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtles, spotted turtles, and diamondback terrapins.
Officers executed a search warrant last August, at which time they returned over 600 turtles to their wild habitat.
Boesenberg and Clemons are being held at the Lee County jail.